Urban couples part ways, yet stay married on paper

let's stay friends

Urban couples part ways, yet stay married on paper

Have you seen the pictures of Hrithik Roshan and ex-wife Susanne Khan spending happy times with their children? They are proof that at least in urban India, the social stigma attached to a divorce has vanished. They show that divorced couples can still be good friends and raise their children together.

In less high-profile societies too, more and more divorced couples strive to remain on good terms for various reasons. The first among these is that a court divorce in India is messy, takes very long and is bad publicity in the case of celebrities. Secondly, if there are children involved, custody battles create hell for them.

Thirdly, dividing property is a long and expensive process, that may cause permanent enmity between both parties. So when the two individuals have no intention of remarrying, they prefer a more amicable way out of the situation. They remain married on paper, while leading peaceful, non-confrontational, separate lives.

Stigma is disappearing

Asking for a divorce to end a painful marriage is no longer unusual or socially condemned. Even parents have become broadminded enough to advise their sons and daughters that if a marriage is broken beyond repair, it is wiser to cut the cord and walk away. Many parents these days bring their daughters back to the safety of their maternal home to help them get over the pain and regain their equilibrium.

Financial independence has given lakhs of Indian women of different classes the freedom to walk out of unhappy marriages and create a peaceful life for themselves. The increasing number of divorces, even in the middle class, shows that couples prefer to go their separate ways rather than suffer all their lives, especially when they are young and have no children. However, the new trend is that couples remain good friends to give their children the assurance of having supportive parents.

Better be alone

Take the case of Leela Singh, who is an executive chef at a famous restaurant chain. Her 20-year- old marriage – with two children – collapsed last year, thanks to the violent nature of her husband. “After he beat my son till he passed out, I applied for a divorce. But when we reached an impasse about the custody of the kids, I backed out. I applied for company accommodation and got a one bedroom flat. My kids and I now live separately in our tiny, yet peaceful home,” she says.

“My husband is so angry that he does not phone or visit us – and this suits us well. I make enough money to provide for the kids and don’t intend to marry again. So a separation is what I have chosen,” Leela adds.

Women across the country are deliberately choosing to end their unhappy marriages this way to save themselves the heartbreak of long-drawn-out and extremely expensive legal battles.

Giving peace a chance

However, when there is forgiveness and goodwill between the partners, there is mutual support and awareness of each other’s legal rights. Such couples don’t wish to deprive each other of their money, children or property.

One such famous couple is Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia who separated when the superstar allegedly indulged in extramarital affairs. Dimple said in many interviews that she had to consider the interests of her daughters while making a decision, and she chose to continue with the dead marriage. She saved all of Khanna’s property fighting his income tax cases for her daughters whom she believed to be the legal heirs to their father’s wealth. Dimple and Rajesh never married a second time and their daughters Twinkle and Rinke had the benefit of being in touch with both parents.

However, counselors say that today, many high-earning women don’t even want money as a divorce settlement. All they want is peace and happiness for their children and the chance to build their own wealth. It seems like this trend will only rise in the coming years, what with women striving at every step to break free from oppressive patriarchal structures.

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